Submitted to: Bulletin of Entomological Research
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/13/2008
Publication Date: 2/1/2009
Citation: Aluja, M., Rull, J., Perez-Staples, D., Diaz-Fleischer, F., Sivinski, J.M. 2009. Random mating among Anastrepha ludens (Diptera: Tephritidae) adults of geographically distant and ecologically distinct populations in Mexico. Bulletin of Entomological Research. 99:207-214. Interpretive Summary: Pest fruit flies sometimes have cryptic species; i.e., insects that look alike but do not mate among themselves. Since Sterile Male Technique (SIT) is a major form of fruit fly control, it is important to recognize any barriers to mating in the field. Scientists at the USDA-ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology (Gainesville, Florida) in cooperation with colleagues at the Instituto de Ecologia (Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico) determined that while there was evidence for longer matings among genetically similar Mexican fruit flies, individuals from very different habitats mated as often as those from similar environments. This lack of discrimination suggests that special strains of flies are not required for Mexican fruit fly SIT.
Technical Abstract: The Mexican fruit fly Anastrepha ludens (Loew) is a polyphagous pestiferous insect with a geographical range encompassing highly variable environmental conditions. Considering that cryptic species have been recently found among South American representatives of the same taxonomic group as A. ludens, we tested whether or not some populations of A. ludens have evolved assortative mating as an isolating mechanism that maintains intrapopulation genetic differences and behavioral adaptations to local conditions. Males and females stemming from widely separated locations with similar environmental conditions, and males and females stemming from populations within individual-flight range, but collected in different hosts (a native and an exotic one) mated randomly among themselves when placed in a field cage. Despite the fact that sibling males and females from two distinct populations also mated randomly among themselves, sibling couples engaged in significantly longer copulations than non-sibling couples, indicating that perhaps adults discriminated mates with similar genetic compositions. Our results have important practical implications as A. ludens is the most devastating pest of citrus in Mexico and Central America and large scale releases of sterile flies are used to control it.